Your dog and her puppies shouldn’t be left alone for longer than four hours at a time for the first couple of days. Look for signs of distress or illness. After the first week, it’s ok to leave the dog alone with her puppies for about six hours at a time.
Expecting puppies is a really exciting time for any family! In the weeks before the due date, preparations should be made to ensure that the new mother and her babies will have a clean, comfortable, and safe area to live during the first weeks after birth.
Since you’re now expecting “grandpups,” you’re probably unsure of how to handle your fur baby becoming a fur mommy and wondering what your role as grandpup parent should be.
Birth is a basic instinct, the most natural thing in the world. Because of this, you may be wondering if and when you can leave your dog alone with her new puppies.
While there are variables that affect each specific dog, new grandpup parents should expect to supervise for at least a week in regular intervals to ensure the safety and health of the mother and the pups.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Grandpups
Birth is an instinctual process, so you would expect nature to take its course and that your dog will have no problem delivering her own puppies. You are merely there to comfort and support your dog, just as any mother would love to be present with her daughter during the experience of bringing a child into the world.
Whelping is a term that refers to helping your “dog-ter” (your doggie daughter, so to speak) give birth to her puppies, your “grandpups.”
The labor and delivery process can last as long as 24 hours in some cases. You, or another responsible person who your dog trusts, should be present during the process just in case there are any complications.
Despite being a natural and instinctual event, the possibility that something unforeseen could arise is very real and calls for observation on your part so that, if needed, intervention can be made as quickly as possible.
Do not disturb or touch the puppies during this process. Only provide minimal contact with mom as she concentrates on the labor and delivery of her babies.
Some mothers will not want you to touch or pet them, which is okay. Be respectful of her wishes during this time.
Other moms will look to their parents (you) for calming rubs on the head, neck, or back throughout the entire process.
You know your dog best, so use your judgment about how much contact you give her. Look for cues from her as to whether to increase or decrease affection. Refrain from touching the puppies until after all of them have been born without complication.
After you’re certain the birthing process is complete, you will need to provide mom with food and water and clean the area for her and her pups.
Ensure that there is a clean and comfortable place for her to rest with her babies and that they are close enough to mommy to keep warm.
They should suckle or nurse soon after being born, so help mom make sure that they’re all able to reach her nipples and latch on properly.
Nursing and Suckling
Monitor how often the new babies are suckling and nursing. Like human babies, puppies will need to be fed about every 2 hours, but may suckle for comfort between or after feeding.
If you notice your dog seems uncomfortable or whining as though she is in pain, check her nipples for any signs of redness or irritation.
You may need to remove suckling pups for a couple of hours to give her some relief. A smaller litter may allow for you to simply move the pups around and help them latch on to unused nipples so as not to irritate a select few.
If you notice a low milk supply or the puppies seem to stay constantly hungry, gather the new family into a comfortable-sized carrier or crate and take them to the veterinarian to ensure that there are no problems.
Inflamed mammary glands, or Mastitis, can lead to mom being unable or unwilling to feed her puppies, so a quick response to nursing issues is the best option to avoid potentially bigger problems. Your presence during the first few days to a week will help tremendously to prevent these types of problems.
When Is It OK To Leave My Dog Alone With My Grandpups?
For the first couple of days, stay fairly close to your canine companion and her new litter of puppies, checking on them at least every couple of hours.
During the first week, it’s not advised to leave your dog and her puppies alone for more than four hours at a time (about two hours for the first day or two). You’ll want to check on them to look for any signs of distress, sickness, or other problems.
After the first week, a quick check every six hours should be fine as long as there have been no issues.
When is it Bad to Let a Dog Be Alone With Her Puppies?
During and Immediately Following Labor and Delivery
Your supervision isn’t nearly as important when your pet is more mature and has experience giving birth and raising puppies. Still, even in these situations, the delivery and the first few days after are critical times for her.
For example, if your dog shows signs of severe pain during delivery or has difficulty delivering one of her pups, you need to contact your veterinarian for advice.
Depending on the situation, you may have to take your dog to the office to be aided with her delivery.
Becoming a Mom Too Early
Some dogs become pregnant too early, which causes them to lack the Oxytocin levels that ensure proper bonding with the puppies. This can lead to her neglecting the pups.
You may need to intervene to ensure that she is properly caring for, feeding, and cleaning her babies regularly, so leaving them completely alone is definitely not a good idea!
On the same note, inexperienced moms can be a little clumsy or have difficulty figuring out the best way to rest with their puppies having access to her nipples. Mom may accidentally step on, sit on, or lie on her puppies in a way that can injure or suffocate them.
Checking on them regularly for the first few days gives you the opportunity to show her what to do if she seems hesitant or uncertain. You’ll also be able to organize her litter so that each puppy nurses comfortably without stopping their little noses from breathing properly or trapping any of their tiny body parts underneath her.
During this time, check for signs of Mastitis, inflamed mammary glands, irritated or red nipples, or low milk supply, as this could lead to underweight or starved puppies.
The mother and puppies will need to have enough room to move around, use the bathroom, and exercise as they get bigger. Your guidance and supervision ensure the happiest, healthiest family.
The environment should be calm and not too noisy or stressful for mom. Otherwise, she may become stand-offish toward her litter, ignoring them or even becoming aggressive toward them.
Aggressive Behavior Toward The Puppies
Pay close attention to how your dog interacts with her babies. An especially large litter can be a recipe for disaster, leading to a stressed dog who ignores or attacks one or more of the little pups who rely on her.
Any signs of aggression toward her babies is cause to remove the pup immediately and contact your vet for advice on how to proceed.
If her aggression is from the stress of her litter being too large for her to manage, your vet can help you decide the best course of action to help the puppies and the mother resolve the problems with the least risk to their health or well-being.
It’s also very important to look for any signs that the puppy (or puppies) that are being pushed away by mom may be sick.
Parasites from mom are often passed to the puppies who aren’t equipped to fight them off, causing them to become sick or weak. The mother’s instinct is to push the problem away from her healthy litter to avoid being targeted by predators and getting the other pups sick. She may even eat her sickly puppy to protect the rest of her pups!
If you notice any signs of weakness, immobility, sickness, or anything unusual with any of the puppies, remove them and seek expert medical advice, especially if the mother seems distant from that particular puppy or has shown ANY signs of aggression toward them.
As always, you know your dog better than anyone, so look for behaviors or actions that seem unlike her and take note of them. If you have any concerns or questions involving the health or safety of her or any of her babies, call a professional for advice or assistance.
Any signs of illness in mom or babies should be taken seriously and handled by a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Do not wait to seek help if you feel your dog or her babies need it! Time is of the essence in these situations, and it is always better to be safe than sorry!
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